Retirement plan matching available for activated Reservists

  • Published
  • By Maj. Kevin Normile
  • 445th Airlift Wing Deputy Staff Judge Advocate

Did you know many employers, not just the federal government, will retroactively give you the opportunity to receive a match to your elective deferral account when you resume working for a civilian employer after you return from Reserve duty?

This normally would take the form of “matching” dollar amounts for your retire­ment account, such as a 401k, 403b, 457, or the Thrift Savings Plan for Department of Defense civilians.

The Uniformed Servicemembers Em­ployment and Reemployment Rights Act, or “USERRA,” and a matching statute governing the TSP provide these rights.

For reservists employed in the civilian sec­tor, most employers are required under law to give you the opportunity to make contributions to your account when you return, and then they must provide you the match you would have earned.

For those employed as federal civil servants, you are entitled to have your TSP matching percentage applied upon return to your federal civilian position. However, TSP has a special rule where your military contributions to your TSP account can satisfy the re­quirement for a TSP match.

To make the math simple, here is an example with TSP: A civil servant who makes $100,000 per year activates as a reservist for a year. The civil servant would normally have to contribute 5% of their pay to get the full TSP match of 5% (1% automatic, 3% dollar-for dollar contribution match, and 1% at a $.50 per dollar contribution match for two dollars).

This means that the civilian employee would have to contribute $5,000 dollars (5% of their pay) to get the full TSP match of $5,000 total. However, if they contributed $5,000 to their Reserve military TSP account for the year, they could report those contri­butions to the TSP for them to put the full match right into the member’s civilian TSP account.

This special rule makes it much easier for reservists to plan for their financial future and get their entire TSP match.

The TSP has created a wonderful fact sheet on this issue. It can be found at:­cations/tspfs08.pdf

If you have any questions about your rights under USERRA, or for assistance with any other legal assis­tance matters, please feel free to visit your legal team during walk-in legal assistance hours (1 to 3 p.m. Sat­urday and 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday) during Scarlet unit training assemblies.